Social Interaction, Social Context, and Language: Essays in Honor of Susan Ervin-Tripp

By Dan Isaac Slobin; Julie Gerhardt et al. | Go to book overview

CONCLUSION

At the end of the introductory section I made the not very profound suggestion that there are speech events defined as somehow simultaneously formal and informal. I have a hunch that the dissertation defense constitutes such an event, one in which consideration of "official" goals and setting interacts with the character of personal relationships to define the situation as "serious but informal." It may be that the Generals and Admirals Conference is further differentiated as something like "serious and formal -- but not unfriendly." If my hunch is correct, mutual selection of a "mixed" variety is itself metaphorical, simultaneously signaling and reinforcing joint acceptance of the situation defined. The frequency and particularities of such varietal mixes can only be determined by looking at other speech events characterized by different ends, degrees of "officialness," interpersonal relations and, of course, both the kinds of variations in more global pragmatic functions or considerations identified by such investigators as Beeman and Katriel -- and a congeries of considerations limned above.

It may well be that to the extent that mixture occurs, the availability of metaphorical marking in Gumperz's sense as an interactional resource will be reduced. The extent to which this may be the case will require much more careful examination of a wider and more systematic range of cases than has been possible in this exploratory paper.


Appendix A
Informal Register in the Map Corpus
You know/Y'know 61 (all participants; range one to 32 instances)
I mean 9 (two participants)
Okay 14 (all participants; two instances apparently quotes)
Yeah/ya/yuh 8
Contractions:
don't 19
I'm/I'll/I'd 14
that's 7
it's 7
you're/you've/you'd 6
didn't 6
other 26 (all participants; some doubles; additional instances
embedded in longer stretches of informal register)
Quantifiers:
a little/little bit/little more 4
lot/lots/awful lot 3

-96-

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